Wildfires spark Aspen tourism officials to speak out | AspenTimes.com

Wildfires spark Aspen tourism officials to speak out

Jeanne McGovernThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – As wildfires continue to make headlines across the state, local tourism officials hope to make a different kind of headline: “Aspen is open, cool and enjoyable.”At Tuesday’s Aspen Chamber Resort Association board meeting, it was clear that those present wanted to get the word out that there are no fires in the Aspen vicinity, nor is the town being overly affected by blazes burning elsewhere the state – though people are beginning to call and ask.”We’re not necessarily talking about our neighbors, but we are talking about the great blue skies we have and that we’re a great weather destination – a place to escape the heat,” said chamber vice president of sales and marketing Julia Theisen. “We are trying to send a positive message about Aspen rather than focusing on the negative of what’s happening elsewhere.”According to Bill Tomcich, president of local reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, local lodges have seen no cancellations due to concerns about the weather or fire danger. In fact, Tomcich reported that summer bookings are the best the town has seen in years, with the Saturday night during the recent Food & Wine Classic hitting 98 percent occupancy.At the state level, the Colorado Tourism Office, while acknowledging it is receiving calls from visitors concerned about their upcoming trips, issued the following statement Monday: “We recognize the seriousness of the situation and, while we cannot forecast any impact on the state’s summer tourism season, to date we have seen little to no impact thus far on visitation or the state’s summer tourism season. … The active fires represent a very, very small piece of Colorado.”Still, with eight different wildfires burning across the state – including several massive, out-of-control burns that have forced people to evacuate their homes and forced businesses to close up shop – local tourism officials believe they need to be proactive in keeping people coming to town.”Many of our summer guests are already in the car driving, so we need to keep the message out there that Aspen is open, cool and enjoyable,” said Aspen chamber President Debbie Braun. “That is the messaging we are working on.”jmcgovern@aspentimes.com

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